Sunday, July 1, 2012

Leaving it to Beaver

Having always appreciated the acting ability of Mel Gibson, I finally checked out the innovative movie, The Beaver. Talk about heavy! The movie's premise is straight forward enough: a depressed man finds that the only way he can communicate with those around him (including his wife and two sons) is through a hand-held puppet. The puppet, obviously called The Beaver, gives Gibson's character, Walter, a voice (albeit sounding uncannily like acclaimed British actor, Ray Winstone), to say things he cannot otherwise articulate.

While that may sound like the recipe for a somewhat quirky, even humourous take on the difficult subject of depression, forget it! This is a film that is as dark as the fur coat of the addition to Gibson's left forearm.

I don't intend to use the rest of this blog to critique the film, or any of the performances in it. There are other bloggers, and other film commentators, that do that sort of thing much more eloquently, and knowledgeably, than me. But one part of the film is gnawing at me, much like the buck-teeth of the animal in question do to a piece of wood.

When it comes to dealing with life's curveballs, who's to say how a person should respond? We each have our challenges and only we can discern the most appropriate way of how we overcome (or not) those hurdles, and how we emerge (or not) from the darkness of despair. Obviously, it is important not to hurt or damage others in the process but if a habit, a behaviour or a particular item offers us comfort, strength, security and, most of all, hope, then surely that's a small price to pay?

I'm not condoning anything that puts us, or those around us, at risk (emotionally, physically, mentally or spiritually) or trying to 'self-justify' decisions that I have made in the past. And please don't think my exposure to a creative Hollywood interepration of the significant and all-too-real issue of depression has suddenly made me an expert in human behaviour or even psychology. (To claim the latter would be foolhardy, at the least, dangerous, at the worst.)

Part of the human condition is that we are all broken and flawed. In different ways, at different times, we each hide behind our own version of The Beaver: a mask, a quirk, a ritual, something that sustains or empowers us. Unless it becomes pathological, this extra source of strength or comfort can be a  saving grace. (Who's not to say that playing the part of a man unhinged and on the edge was not cathartic for Gibson, a man who, it would seem, is indeed plagued by his own share of demons and personal challenges.)

For all the buck-toothed simplicity of the titular character, The Beaver was a movie that posed plenty of questions. Significantly, (for a product of Hollywood), it didn't settle for offering easy answers. I don't know about you, but that sounds a lot like life itself!

No comments:

Post a Comment